Mind your tweets and shares, activists are warned

Political activists had better be careful what they put on social media – presumably including blogs like this one – or face the possibility of imprisonment.

According to The Independent, police are monitoring key activists online, in the same way that they used to seize suspected drug smugglers’ Filofaxes and mobile phones, back in the day – it seems the villains used to record the weights of the drugs in graphs at the back.

According to John Cooper QC, a human rights lawyer, political activists can use Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere to get their message across.

But if they use those sites to discuss tactics, they might as well be having a meeting with their opponents sitting in and listening.

Obviously he was talking about people who incite riots and other illegal behaviour.

But here’s the thing:

We have a government, and a Prime Minister, who want to introduce ‘secret’ courts. If that happens, what’s to stop them monitoring activists who oppose them, in ‘secret’? What’s to stop them arresting those people, in ‘secret’? What’s to stop them imprisoning those people, in ‘secret’?

Are we, perhaps, only a few short steps away from the kind of police state they had in Chile under Pinochet, where the mothers of people who had been taken by the ‘secret’ police danced silent and alone in protest? Former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a big fan of General Pinochet, I believe.

I’m not going to modify my comments to give credence to such threats. If I disappear, you’ll know it’s time to batten down the hatches and get ready for full-on repression.

Mr Cooper QC said the principle that the police need to establish relevance should not be diluted and it would be wrong to establish a general rule that private communications should be handed over to the police.

But isn’t that what Theresa May wants? The ability to monitor private Internet communications? As Home Secretary, the option of handing over whatever she finds to the police would be an easy one.

I’ll be back soon… I hope!